The surreal life of Lewis Hamilton (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes over the 2012-2013 Formula One offseason was definitely risky.

Not only was the British driver leaving the only team he’d ever known in his F1 career – and the team with which he won the World Championship in 2008 – he was going to a squad that was faltering at the time.

Some pegged it as a disaster waiting to happen. But those dire predictions are long gone now. While McLaren failed to hit the podium in 2013, Hamilton and Mercedes went on the upswing.

And this year, as McLaren struggles mightily to climb out of mid-pack, Hamilton has rattled off four Grand Prix wins and is fighting Merc teammate Nico Rosberg for another world title.

“I never thought it’d be this good,” Hamilton said to F1 on NBC Sports’ Will Buxton during some downtime in the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. “I think you’d be kind of stupid to think it’d be as good as it is. You just hope for the best and take whatever the best is.

“Coming to this team [has been] an amazing decision. I already knew it was an amazing decision when I joined. I wanted to be a part of something going forward, developing something new, something [for] a team that hasn’t had a lot of success. So when you do win, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.”

For more of Hamilton and Buxton’s conversation, you can check out Parts 1 and 2 below. F1 returns to NBC on Sunday, June 8 at 2 p.m. ET with the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.